(This is old, I just forgot to post it and added a few more insights)
It’s been 3 days since we’ve landed in Cape Town, South Africa and it’s already been so much to process. I honestly don’t know how or what to write. There have been so many emotions going through my brain. We had the opportunity of visiting Robben Island, South Africa, which had so much history and hardships that were faced there. We visited the cell that Nelson Mandela was held in for so many years and learned more about him. The environment of the island was an intense feeling and quite saddening. What was most impactful for me was learning about the certain populations that were placed there just because the people who were in charge of the country viewed them as a threat or dis honoring to live on the mainland of South Africa. From political prisoners, individuals with mental health problems to individuals who had leprosy and more.
Overall, the part that had me thinking the most was the part about how the prisoners had political discussions and taught and educated one another. It was amazing to see that everything was taken away from them but despite the challenges they faced the knowledge they withheld inside their minds gave them so much power. It was powerful to learn about how they took iniative of a horrible situation to empowering one another through educating each other.
Since visiting the Island and learning about the racism that played a part in their history, there is a huge gap between the dominant culture and the townships today. Today we had the opportunity to visit four agencies that work with a variety of issues that South Africans are facing. We traveled to several neighborhoods and I felt a bit of disgust seeing the difference of those individuals who lived in nice neighborhoods and living right next to rundown homes and impoverished locations. I can’t fathom how one can become so comfortable with the inequality of housing, jobs, and more and becoming desensitized of the social issues going on in their country.
It was interesting to eat at nice restaurant called the Odyssey and seeing the difference in being in the city and the townships. It felt like I was visiting two different countries. It was so interesting. Although the differences are there, the community in the townships was strong, loving, caring, and amazing! The vibe and the feeling of being in these neighborhoods gave me so much joy. The community and the South African social workers were all so welcoming and loving. I felt like I’ve known them for years with how comfortable they were meeting us. So excited to learn from them!